January 15, 2020
Avoid Common Start-Up Mistakes: 5 Tips You Need to Know Before Opening a Medical Office
Thinking of opening a professional medical office? Avoid common start-up mistakes with these top tips.
In 2006, Dr. Peter Pronovost saved 8 lives and $2 million using a 5 item checklist.
His Keystone project reminded medical professionals everywhere that the smallest things can have profound impacts. That truth doesn’t just apply to treating patients, either. Details matter just as much when opening your own practice.
Using checklists can help you keep track of those critical details. They can help you avoid common pitfalls in the process of setting up a medical office and prevent expensive mistakes. Keep reading to discover the top 5 things to put on your successful start-up checklist, now.
1. Start Early
If there’s one thing that belongs on every how to start a medical practice startup checklist, it’s this.
Starting a business usually takes longer than you expect and startup loans for physicians have specific requirements. In fact, when planning your open date, the rule of thumb is to double your initial estimate. Use that revised figure as your baseline for an estimate of the minimum amount of time you’ll need if everything goes perfectly.
(Spoiler: it won’t.)
The unavoidable truth is that starting a medical practice is more complicated than starting other businesses. In addition to all of the usual business startup paperwork, doctors must deal with concerns such as:
- Medicare and Medicaid credentialing
- HIPAA compliance
- Sourcing, purchasing, and installation of specialty equipment
- Navigating a warren of federal, state, and local laws and codes
- Conducting background checks on partners and staff
Individual steps that may sound simple, such as installing an Electronic Health Records system, can take months.
Trying to work on a too-short timeline creates physical, emotional, and financial stress. It sets your practice up to start at a disadvantage. Using realistic estimates and building in time for the inevitable delays will go a long way toward starting a successful practice.
2. Have a Plan
Before you can start your own medical practice, you will need to write at least a basic business plan. Getting financing will be nearly impossible without one.
Smart physicians don’t stop there, however. Writing a strategic plan may sound like a lot of work or feel unnecessary.
Like washing your hands, however, it isn’t a step you can afford to skip. Strategic plans:
- Set you up to make smart decisions
- Establish benchmarks against which to evaluate your practice
- Keep you on target
- Set you apart from the competition
- Make it easier to get back on track if things go off the rails
- Help you choose the right staff and partners
- Lay a foundation for accountability
If you don’t feel confident writing a strategic plan yourself, get help from an expert. The investment will more than pay for itself down the line.
3. Don’t Fall Into the Assumptions Trap
Physicians start their own practices for many reasons. Unfortunately, it is easy to get so caught up in the details of how to start a medical practice that you forget why you wanted to strike out on your own in the first place.
Before digging into the startup process, get a big picture view. Take the time to ask yourself key questions, such as:
- What kind(s) of patients do I most want to work with?
- What atmosphere do I want for my practice?
- What kind of work/life balance am I looking for?
- How can I create a practice that reflects my priorities and ideals?
With the rise of concierge medicine and other alternative practice models, physicians have more choices than ever before. New trends in billing, technology, and other aspects of medical care mean you don’t need a traditional clinic model to be successful. In fact, innovative approaches may position you to be more successful in the long run.
Build time into your startup process to consider the full scope of your options and desires. Don’t use traditional or “default” models and methods just because they are the most common.
4. Prioritize Your Team
No person is an island, is nowhere is this more evident than in a startup. Building a strong business involves creating two distinct teams.
Hiring employees is far more than just an item to cross of your “how to open a medical clinic” checklist. Choosing the right employees will make your business thrive. Choosing the wrong ones can ruin it.
Securing great employees doesn’t happen in a void. The best staff will be looking to work for the best employers. To qualify, you need to have:
- Your legal paperwork in order
- Employee handbooks and other key policies in place
- Competitive pay and benefits packages
- Background checks and other well-defined hiring processes
- A reliable payroll process
Does all of that sound overwhelming? If so, it’s probably because you assume you need to do it all yourself. You don’t.
This is where your second team comes into play.
You went to school to be a physician. Not an accountant, business manager, HR professional, or lawyer. But your business will require skills in all of those areas and more.
To be successful, you need to surround your practice with people who have the knowledge and experience you don’t. Seek out reliable recruiters, financial professionals, and attorneys to help you.
Vet your prospective partners thoroughly. Chosen wisely, they can be assets for the life of your practice.
5. Invest Carefully
In the excitement of starting out, it can be easy to overspend.
Following a standard medical checklist can lead to buying supplies your specific practice doesn’t actually need. The desire to make a good impression can cause you to blow funds on non-essentials like trendy decor. Dozens of small expenses can rack up in a hurry, eating away at your financing and creating a precarious financial position.
With enough time and the right support, on the other hand, you can:
- Determine what you really need (or don’t)
- Find inexpensive suppliers for key equipment
- Enroll in cost-saving purchasing programs
- Identify the systems and tools that provide the biggest bang for your buck
- Avoid getting in over your head financially
Get Started Today
Now that you know the most common pitfalls along the path to starting your own business, you can great choices about starting your own practice. Don’t wait to start building the team you need to make smart startup decisions.
Call the experts and leverage their experience to create your successful private practice today!